The journals ‘Science’ and ‘Nature’ have long been held in great esteem. Scientists strove to publish their science research work in these reputable journals. However, in recent years, these journals have fallen out of favour because of a ‘reproducibility crisis’.
Scientific claims from new research published in journals must now be peer reviewed by other scientists who are experts in that area of science.
Scientists check that the research published is repeatable and reproducible.
Data is repeatable if the original experimenter repeats the research using the same method and equipment and obtains the same results.
Data is reproducible if the research is repeated by other scientists and the same results are obtained.
On the 3rd January 2020, BBC news reported that a Nobel Prize-winning scientist had to retract a paper published in ‘Science’ in May 2019 because the results of her research were found not to be reproducible and data was missing from lab notebooks.
‘Nature’ in 2017 expressed concern about results that couldn’t be reproduced, citing a survey that 2/3 of other scientists had failed to reproduce another scientists’ experiment.
‘Nature’ however, does seem to be being proactive in tackling the ‘reproducibility crisis’ and have introduced a reproducibility checklist for submitting authors, designed to improve reliability and rigour. Hopefully other journals will follow this example and then the scientific community can start again to have trust and belief in what they read.